Cab driver who hit and killed boy in crosswalk gets ticket, no jail time
Richard Stock and his wife Dana were heartbroken when Koffi Komlani received no jail time over the death of their nine-year-old son Cooper last year.
"Giving this man a traffic ticket for killing my son is an insult to us and to Cooper's memory," the couple said in a joint statement read at Komlani's Manhattan Criminal Court hearing. "Is a life worth nothing more than a traffic ticket?"
Cooper was holding his dad's hand as they crossed West End Ave. on Manhattan's Upper West Side when a yellow cab driven by Komlani made a left turn and struck the boy in the crosswalk, the New York Daily News reported. Even though the Coopers had the right of way at the time, Judge Erika Edwards said the tragedy was "not a crime."
Komlani pled guilty to failing to exercise due care and causing serious physical injury. He was fined $500 and had his driver's license suspended for six months. He also must complete a driver's training course. While Komlani won't be going to jail, he also won't be behind the wheel of a taxi any time soon, as the Taxi and Limousine Commission declined to renew his license.
City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal proposed a law, called Cooper's law, that would strip the licenses of cabbies who injure or kill pedestrians.
"I'm very frustrated with the (legal options) we have to deal with these crashes," Rosenthal told the News.
But even that law won't do much to keep reckless drivers from driving again. Despite Mayor Bill De Blasio vision of death-free city streets, New York is actually quite lenient on drivers who strike pedestrians. A state precedent known as the "rule of two" stipulates a driver must commit two traffic misdemeanors when a pedestrian or cyclist is struck for prosecutors to bring a charge of criminal negligence, according to CityLab.
The rule of two isn't a law, rather it's a legal precedent arbitrarily applied on a case by case basis. Sometimes, drivers who were committing two traffic violations and killed a pedestrian or cyclists still aren't charged with a crime. The act of hitting a pedestrian doesn't count toward a motorist's two strikes. Drivers need to be violating two traffic laws in addition to killing someone to be charged with a crime. And because the rule of two is a precedent rather than a law a case would have to challenge the precedent, making Cooper's Law ineffective in court until the next pedestrian strike.
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